T. H. REDFERN
Two Shillings and sixpence
T. H. REDFERN
THE BLAVATSKY LECTURE
delivered at the Annual Convention of
The Theosophical Society in England
at Besant Hall, London
May 20th, 1961
THE THEOSOPHICAL PUBLISHING HOUSE, LONDON, LTD
68 Great Russell Street, W.C.l
The Theosophical Press
By the same Author:
THE WORK AND WORTH OF MME BLAVATSKY
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GETTING READY FOR 1975
THE ALONENESS AND RESPONSIBILITY OF
FREEDOM TO THINK
Every one of us in The Theosophicai Society is free to hold in
brotherly fashion whatever opinions appear to him to be true. As we
progress towards Theosophy the need to know is intensified (i). We
find that we have to think things out for ourselves. Acceptance of
attractive ideas as beliefs is not enough. ‘Theosophists’, Mme
Blavatsky said, ‘accept nothing in the name of faith ’ ( 2 ); and ‘Theo¬
sophy is for those who can think, or for those who can drive them¬
selves to think, not mental sluggards’ ( 3 ). Sluggardness in thinking
is an obstacle we meet, and in our Lodges we shall make more
Theosophicai progress in the mental aspect of our bi-polar work by
helping one another in acquiring greater competence in thinking,
rather than by stuffing our minds with data.
Thinking results in self-dependence and self-responsibility, which
is radical to Theosophicai living as Mme Blavatsky expounded it.
Two other sentences can well be used occasionally to measure our¬
selves by, if we think them true. Mme Blavatsky’s declaration that
‘Every Theosophist is a nonconformist’ ( 4 ); and Thomas Vaughan’s
definition of a Theosophist: \ .. an original thinker . .. abandoning
the old pathway of routine and entering on the solitary pathway of
independent thought—Godward ... a seeker after the Eternal Truth,
with an inspiration of his own to solve the Eternal Problems’ ( 5 ).
THE INADEQUACY OF THOUGHT ALONE
As we work to improve our capacities as independent thinkers, not
conforming for any cause other than honest concurrence, we have
before us the warning that ‘the Mind is the great Slayer of the
Real’ ( 6 ). The I-making function is focused in the mind. It is the
source of the alone-standing capacity we have to develop theosophic-
ally, but in the Indian image we have to learn how to be seated
‘between the wings of the great bird’ ( 7 ), the Hamsa, or swan; that
is, to repose in the creative Word beyond the dualities of mind. The
competence of mind, necessary for our wayfaring, is the cause of
prideful, spiritual disaster unless coupled with an equally developed
realization that the powers used by our minds are universal, appro¬
priated individually by every human and superhuman being.
Coupled with our intelligent nonconformity we need the awareness
of community and, arising from this, harmonious adaptive skill in
living relationships, without sacrifice of the integrity of our growing
independence. For many of us this is difficult, but we can work at it
by helpful friendliness regardless of differences, discernment of the
measure of truth mutually recognized, and a tender and sensitive care
in propounding ideas not yet acceptable to our brother-individuals.
MME BLAVATSKY AS THE AGENT OF LIBERATED MEN
Our Society was formed in New York by a group of men and
women attracted by the ideas being propounded through the power¬
ful personality of Mme Blavatsky; and she said she was acting as the
agent of a Brotherhood of men who have lived many times on earth,
have won the mastery of human problems by effort and insight,
secured release from the compulsion to be reborn, and attained
remarkable powers over nature through greater knowledge. Being
free from necessitous reincarnation, they yet voluntarily return to
birth to stand by and help the rest of us, in so far as we will pay heed.
The setting of the Society’s origin therefore presents a radical
challenge to the inquiring member. He is free as to the conclusion he
reaches; he can take all the time he needs to investigate and think
about it. Provided he accepts and acts upon the objects of the Society,
he need not reach a conclusion, and it does not matter to the Society
what his conclusion is; but a whole life-transforming philosophy is
wrapped up in the acceptance of Mme Blavatsky’s claim. She was
either lying, or deluded, or she spoke the truth. If she spoke the truth,
then what she had to say, on behalf of those whom she represented,
must merit the most careful attention; for they have solved what we
are still up against, are able to help mankind, are offering help and
seeking collaborators. This is stupendous in its implications. It
means that, mankind badly needing wise guidance, that guidance is
available. This is of such importance that the challenge to inquire
into its validity is well-nigh inescapable.
I hold that Mme Blavatsky bore true witness, partly because her
life and works make sense only upon her own explanation of what she
was doing and of the sources of her inspiration and information;
partly because I can find nothing more probable than the main
themes of the teachings she transmitted to explain the radical
problems of life; and partly from a measure of confirmation in my
TEACHINGS FOR TESTING
Mme Blavatsky did not say: ‘these are true teachings: believe
them’. In effect she said: consider them, examine them, disprove
them if you can. Reject whatever you can disprove. If you cannot
disprove them, then let your mind be open to them as possibilities,
or as probabilities if your reason or intuition gives you that endorse¬
ment. In so far as your own practical experience confirms them,
place your faith unhesitatingly in that knowledge.
THE CENTENNIAL EFFORT OF THE LIBERATED MEN
Among these teachings are several declarations that her work and
the foundation of our Society was the nineteenth-century expression
of a recurrent endeavour by the Brotherhood of redeemed and
liberated men whom she served, to enlighten the people of the world
about spiritual realities. This has been made in the last quarter of
every century since the time of Tsongkhapa, the reformer of Tibetan
Buddhism. Obviously there are inspired teachers at other times, but
there is a special rhythmic centennial effort on occult lines.
Mme Blavatsky’s words were:
‘Among the commandments of Tsong-Kha-pa there is one that
enjoins the Rahats (Arhats) to make an attempt to enlighten the
world, including the “white barbarians”, every century, at a
certain specified period of the cycle. Up to the present day none of
these attempts has been very successful’ ( 8 ).
. The adepts . . . send forth a messenger to try to teach the
world in the last quarter of each century, and the Theosophical
Society represents their work for this epoch’ ( 9 ).
‘Every century an attempt is being made to show the world that
occultism is no vain superstition. Once the door (is) permitted to
be kept (remain) a little ajar, it will be opened wider with every
new century. The times are ripe for a more serious knowledge than
hitherto permitted, though still very limited, so far* (io).
‘No Master of Wisdom from the East will himself appear or
send anyone to Europe or America .. . until the year 1975’ (i i).
‘. .. During the last quarter of every hundred years an attempt
is made by those “Masters” of whom I have spoken, to help on the
spiritual progress of Humanity in a marked and definite way.
Towards the close of each century you will invariably find that an
outpouring or upheaval of spirituality—or call it mysticism if you
prefer—has taken place. Some one or more persons have appeared
in the world as their agents, and a greater or less amount of occult
knowledge and teaching has been given out. If you care to do so,
you can trace these movements back, century by century’ (12).
If this be true it follows that history should bear the impress of
these similar endeavours in previous centuries, and another such
effort about 1975 can be anticipated. The modern Theosophical
Movement was launched towards the end of the last century, and
expanded as a public force in this twentieth century. There was dis¬
cussion at its inception as to whether it would be better to have a
secret or a public society, and an open policy was decided on; but
some of the earlier efforts may have been more secret. In the West
the central figure in the eighteenth century appears to have been
Le Comte de Saint-Germain, with Cagliostro, Anton Mesmer and
Louis Claude de Saint Martin also prominent. They were reported
to be collaborating in efforts to promote conciliation and clarification
among Masonic and related movements through the Convention of
Wilhelmsbad (1782-5) and the Convention of Paris (1784-7); and to
be fellow-members in the Lodge of the Reunited Friends (13). This
is, however, inconsistent with other reports and incompatibilities
may have developed (14).
Nothing outstanding in the way of occult energizing is conspicuous
in the last quarter of the seventeenth century, but there were promi¬
nent men, with known Rosicrucian interests, working on theosophical
lines in England throughout the century, and some of them were
initiated into Freemasonry although they had no known connection
with practical construction-work. Emblematical Freemasonry, which
has theosophical quality both in the standards it inculcates and the
symbolism it employs, burgeoned forth after the formation of the
Grand Lodge of England in 1717. Clearly something had been
‘cooking’ in this connection in the seventeenth century, but any
attempt to trace it is more speculative than Freemasonry itself,
though there was a report of a ‘great Convention of the Fraternity of
Adopted Masons’ in 1691, when ‘Christopher Wren was adopted a
Brother’, and in a work published in 1686 it is recorded that the ‘most
eminent quality did not disdain to be of this Fellowship’ (15).
Something similar happened a century before. There was a surge
of Rosicrucian publicity set off mainly by Fama Fratemitatis and
Confessio Fratemitatis , published in 1614 and 1615 respectively (16),
but tracing back before that the movement fades into obscurity.
There is evidence to show that Fama Fratemitatis had circulated in
manuscript for some years before appearing in print, and that the
original version was tampered with when printed (17). Adam
Haselmeyer, who published a reply to the Laudable Fraternity of the
Theosophists of Rosen Creutz in 1612, testified that he saw and read
Fama Fratemitatis in 1610 (18). Julius Sperber declared that it was
known otherwise for over nineteen years before it was first printed,
which would take us back at least to 1595 (19). The movement may
well have originated in secret in the sixteenth century, but there is no
final proof (20).
Looking back then to see if history confirms the thesis of a centen¬
nial impulse on occult lines, we have two centuries in which the
evidence is clear, preceded by two in which nothing adequate is on
the known record, but in both cases developments emerged on a
significant scale in the quarter subsequent to that in which such an
impulse is said to have taken place, and could have done in secret,
forming the preparation for what occurred afterwards. The record
then is inconclusive; it is not strong enough to base acceptance on it,
but it is consistent with Mme Blavatsky’s declarations. We are there¬
fore dependent primarily on our evaluations of her testimony. This I
find sufficiently convincing to say it is probably true, the evidence of
history is consistent with it, and if it is true it is very important for
mankind, so important that those of us who have not satisfied our-
selves about it may well feel that it deserves our attention. Those who
are satisfied may agree that in 1961, fourteen years before the centen¬
ary of our Society, we should have a good look at our responsibilities
in this connection.
TWENTIETH CENTURY CHANGES
Let us consider then the situation as it has developed since the last
quarter of the nineteenth century. The technological and scientific
advances are marvellous—millions fly by air every year; electric
power has transformed manufacture; electronics has revolutionized
communications; through cybernetics the machine is transcending
the human brain in mathematics; atomic power promises either
unheard-of devastation and misery or world-wide prosperity; matter
has been found to be insubstantial as pattern-bound energy whose
different qualities arise from number; hereditary characteristics are
found to depend on gene-patterns and hence also on number; the
astronomical horizons have been extended until our sun seems
relatively insignificant in the ordered myriads of stars, and our planet
almost negligible in the cosmic vastness; man on it is firing explora¬
tory missiles into solar space and planning expeditions to the moon
and other planets; strange visitations are reported in our skies of
machines that behave like no earth-made vehicles. The psycho¬
analytical movement has swept away all public reticence in the dis¬
cussion of sexual functioning, physiological and psychological,
normal and aberrant, undermining so-called Christian standards of
behaviour in the West. Politically, colonialism has been overthrown,
apart from the final stages. India is free, Africa in turmoil, and a
materialistic political philosophy based on the writings of Karl Marx
forms the intellectual framework for a revolutionary movement that
has overswept Russia, China and other parts of Asia and Eastern
Europe and seeks with insistent energy to penetrate the rest of the
world. Tibet—described by an Eastern Adept as ‘the last corner of
the globe not so entirely corrupted as to preclude the mingling
together of the two atmospheres, the physical and the spiritual’ (21)
—has succumbed. Its holy places are desecrated and the Dalai Lama
is in exile. Advertising excites all the desires that commercial enter¬
prise craves to satisfy, and the bulk of mankind are starved or under¬
fed. With the peril by nuclear war facing humanity, the so-called
United Nations are torn asunder by sordid lusts for power, side by
side with healing, educational and economic work carried on for the
good of mankind against odds that call forth the highest degrees of
faith and courage. Fear drives men to conventional religion, and
inquiring minds in the West reach out for Eastern teachings, often
without the needed discrimination. Verily this is Kali Yuga, and not
The destiny of the world moves in cycles that have cosmic correla¬
tives and karmic fulfilments, said the Eastern Adepts in the teachings
of the 1875-91 instruction-period, and they are powerless to stop it
‘from going on its destined direction*; but they can ‘divert some part
of its energy’, just as hydraulic engineers can use great rivers for the
good of mankind and draw off water for irrigation. To what extent
they can do this depends on how much help they can get from folks
like us. The formation of The Theosophical Society was one such
effort to help by giving the Western nations ‘a secure basis upon
which to reconstruct their crumbling faith .. . the evidence that
Asiatic psychology alone supplies’. ‘Give this’, an Adept wrote, ‘and
you will confer happiness of mind on thousands. The era of blind
faith is gone; that of inquiry is here. Inquiry that only unmasks error,
without discovering anything upon which the soul can build, will but
make iconoclasts. Iconoclasm, from its very destructiveness, can give
nothing; it can only raze. But man cannot be satisfied with bare
negation. ... This is the moment to guide the recurrent impulse
which must come, and which will push the age towards extreme
atheism, or drag it back to extreme sacerdotalism, if it is not led to the
primitive soul-satisfying philosophy of the Aryans* (22). In the cyclic
course, England is on the eve of a catastrophe, France nearing a
significant point in her cycle, and Europe in general ‘on the eve of a
cataclysm, which her own Cycle of racial Karma has led her to’ (23).
A Terreur was prognosticated, which would ‘affect all Europe when it
comes, and not one country alone’ (24). In the next great geological
upheaval, the British Isles will be the first to go, ‘destroyed by fire
(submarine volcanoes) and water, France and other lands will follow
suit’ (25), as the continent for the sixth Root Race is prepared.
THE THEOSOPHISTS* TASK
In this predestined cycle, which cannot be arrested but may be
modified, the inevitable karmic suffering of mankind can be lightened.
The London Lodge was told by an Adept, through its treasurer, that
they had in their custody, ‘a movement calculated to benefit an
English-speaking world’, they should ‘keep in correspondence with
all the others in Europe. . . . This is a movement for all Europe, not
for London only, remember’. They should link with the American
members also; and they were told that, if they did their whole duty,
‘the progress of materialism, the increase of dangerous self-
indulgence, and the tendency towards spiritual suicide, can be
checked. . . . The pendulum has swung from the extreme of blind
faith towards the extreme materialistic skepticism, and nothing can
stop it save Theosophy. Is this not a thing worth working for to save
those nations from the doom their ignorance is preparing for
them?’ (26). In 1884, the same Adept wrote to Mr. Sinnett that the
crisis that was then ‘shaking the T.S. to its foundation’ was ‘a
question of perdition or salvation to thousands; a question of the
progress of the Human Race or its retrogression, of its glory or
dishonour’. It was even an issue 'of being or not beings of annihilation,
in fact.. (27). That was the measure of the importance of getting
Theosophy across, to the Adept vision.
Looking forward to the twentieth century, Mme Blavatsky asked
in a well-known passage: ‘what has the new cycle in store for
humanity? Will it be merely a continuation of the present, only in
darker and more terrible colours? Or shall a new day dawn for man¬
kind, a day of pure sunlight, of truth, of charity, of true happiness
for all?* Her answer was that it ‘depends mainly on the few Theo-
sophists who, true to their colours through good repute and ill, still
fight the battle of Truth against the powers of Darkness. ... If,
Theosophy prevailing in the struggle, its all-embracing philosophy
strikes deep root into the minds and hearts of men, if its doctrines of
Reincarnation and Karma, in other words, of Hope and Responsi¬
bility, find a home in the lives of the new generations, then, indeed,
will dawn the day of joy and gladness for all who now suffer and are
outcast. For real Theosophy is altruism. ... It is brotherly love,
mutual help, unswerving devotion to Truth. If once men do but
realize that in these alone can true happiness be found, and never in
wealth, possessions, or any selfish gratification, then the dark clouds
will roll away, and a new humanity will be born upon earth. Then,
the golden age will be there, indeed. But if not, then the storm will
burst, and our boasted western civilization and enlightenment will
sink in such a sea of horror that its parallel History has never yet
recorded’ (28). Elsewhere she wrote, in 1889, that ‘. . . if the Theo-
sophical Society survives and lives true to its mission, to its original
impulses through the next hundred years ... earth will be a heaven
in the twenty-first century in comparison with what it is now!’ (29).
It is by Theosophy manifesting in Theosophists, that this can be
done, and they may be outside The Theosophical Society or in it, and
they may be called Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, Humanists, or
bear any other label. There may be many Theosophists who have
never heard of Theosophy. The Theosophical Society will be the
instrument only if it is ‘true to its mission’, and being a member of it
does not make any one of us into a Theosophist.
THE CYCLIC DEADLINE
Before we have a look at how we are doing in this task, and where
we are up to, let us note a particularly significant passage from Mme
‘The vindication of the Occultists and their Archaic Science is
working itself slowly but steadily into the very heart of society,
hourly, daily and yearly, in the shape of two monster branches,
two stray off-shoots of the trunk of Magic—Spiritualism and the
Roman Church. Fact works its way very often through fiction.
Like an immense boa-constrictor, Error, in every shape encircles
mankind, trying to smother in her deadly coils every aspiration
towards truth and light. But Error is powerful only on the surface,
prevented as she is by Occult Nature from going any deeper, for
the same Occult Nature encircles the whole globe, in every direc¬
tion, leaving not even the darkest corner unvisited. And, whether
by phenomenon or miracle, by spirit hook or bishop’s crook,
Occultism must win the day, before the present era reaches
“Shani’s (Saturn’s) triple septenary” of the Western Cycle in
Europe, in other words—before the end of the twenty-first
century “a.d.” ’ (30).
Our Elder Brethren think and plan in a wide sweep of time. On
this showing the centennial effort around a.d. 2075 will be a last
ditch affair. 1975 is crucial. What part can the Theosophical Move¬
ment play in 1975 and the immediately following years? What has the
1875 energization yielded so far?
PROGRESS IN THE THEOSOPHICAL OBJECTIVES
The assumption that a man is inferior because he has a skin of a
different colour is rapidly passing away. Disdain for other religions is
diminishing, except that a new and widespread superiority-cult has
arisen in Marxism, which is contemptuous of all religion. Women are
securing emancipation, though it comes slowly in the Islamic and
Hindu settings. The artificial barriers to brotherhood are dissolving,
but there is still a great need for more and more groups where
universal brotherhood is exemplified in practice. The Theosophical
Society is no longer the pioneering advance party in this work, but
every Lodge can well make itself a manifesting centre for it.
Comparative religion has advanced apace and mutual respect
between religions has increased remarkably, with Christianity rather
sheepishly trying to hold on to its superiority as being founded by
God’s only Son, fantastic as that seems in the context of the new
astronomy. The idea of reincarnation is slowly and hazily permeating
the public mind in the West. Scientific knowledge is widely dis¬
seminated by television, newspapers and books. Philosophy is little
popularized, being marked in the West by an arid intellectualism,
though a philosophy of science is being cultivated.
The investigation of unexplained phenomena of the human psyche
proceeds laboriously in university groups and has established the
factuality of extrasensory perception. Our human evolution being
at the stage it is, the first attempted practical application has been to
see if it can be used to find out what is in the enemy’s mind for
military advantage (31). The occult doctrines were given a clarifica¬
tion and new impetus by the energization of 1875-91 and its
continuum. This was centred in The Theosophical Society which
was intended to be a united body, providing for the widest variety of
approach-ways through autonomous Lodges, combined in a world
organization of brotherly sympathy for diverse efforts (32). That
unity has been lost, our Adyar society being the largest and most
widely active. There have been a multitude of lesser organizations
formed for the dissemination of the hitherto occult doctrines, with
various degrees of intelligence and honourableness. The gullibility of
desireful mankind is being commercially exploited even in his
longing for wisdom.
THE DEVELOPING THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT
In the direct Theosophical stream, following on the withdrawal of
W. Q. Judge and his supporters, the Point Loma enterprises appear
to be petering out in fragmentation. The United Lodges, formed
under the inspiration of Robert Crosbie and laying almost exclusive
emphasis on the writings of Mme Blavatsky and W. Q. Judge,
seem enduringly established. In the Adyar Society we went through
a phase of englamoured devotion to Annie Besant and C. W.
Leadbeater in which the reasonably critical faculty was not sufficiently
exercised. We were given an exposition of the Adepts as working in
a systematized hierarchy; the proclamation of Krishnamurti as the
intended vehicle of a high Adept known as the World Teacher,
despite Mme Blavatsky’s express statement that the Masters of the
Wisdom would not send another emissary to Europe or America
until 1975; the formation of The Liberal Catholic Church: the
deflection of interests and energies into Co-Masonry; and the
emergence of a vast literature through the hand of Mrs. Alice A.
Bailey purporting to emanate from a Tibetan Master of Wisdom,
which again flies in the teeth of the Blavatsky pronouncement about
no further messenger until 1975. Since Mrs. Besant and Mr. Lead¬
beater passed on we have experienced a renewed interest in the
Blavatsky writings; a greater attention to The Secret Doctrine ; a
slowly permeating impact from Mr. Krishnamurti, who has turned
out to be the most distinguished public figure to arise from the
Theosophical Movement in this century so far, as well as the most
cathartic; a similar slow permeation of Bailey teachings; and the
development of honest attempts to appraise the various doctrines, in
the forefront of which is the Science Group of The Theosophical
Research Centre in this country. Where do we go from here?
THE FALLIBILITY OF THE LEADERS
Neither the Adepts nor Mme Blavatsky ever claimed infallibility.
Indeed the possibility of mistakes was emphasized. Annie Besant and
C. W. Leadbeater made similar declarations (33), though their
conviction did not encourage probing questions. We know now some
mistakes that were made. A simple one was Annie Besant’s correction
of a reference to Bodhidharma, the first Patriarch of Chinese
Buddhism, to the Bodhidharma, or Wisdom Religion, in The Voice of
the Silence (34). This was natural enough, for Zen Buddhism had
hardly been heard of in the West then, and the name had been used
in the second sense in the next note; but Mme Blavatsky was right
and the correction was misleading. I yield to no one in admiration of
Annie Besant, but she was not beyond error. A more glaring example
was her amending of the text of The Voice of the Silence in respect of
the teaching concerning Pratyeka Buddhas. Mrs. Besant said Mme
Blavatsky had asked her to make this correction, ‘as she had, in a
careless moment, copied such a statement elsewhere* (34). In fact
Mme Blavatsky had stated the Pratyeka doctrine in three places (36),
a reference has since appeared also in The Mahatma Letters (37), and
the spate of literature on Tibetan religion since then all bears out that
Mme Blavatsky was correctly transmitting the Mahayana teaching. It
was not disclosed until much later that Mrs. Besant had acted not on
a request from Mme Blavatsky whilst living in the body of that name,
but upon a psychic communication purporting to come from her
after her death (38). Nonetheless, Mr. Leadbeater embraced the
Pratyeka Buddhas as synonymous with the Three Kumaras who
assist Sanat Kumara in his schemata of the Hierarchy (39), and that
just makes us ridiculous in the eyes of the knowledgeable world of
scholarship if we continue to perpetuate it. An odd thing is that this
Besant-Leadbeater distortion of the Pratyeka Buddha doctrine is
carried over into the Alice Bailey expositions (40). If those do
emanate from a high Tibetan initiate, how does it come about that
a well-known Mahayana term is used in a way foreign to Tibetan
thought and contrary to the meaning given in The Mahatma Letters ,
The Secret Doctrine and The Voice of the Silence ? To ask that question
does not deny value to the Bailey writings, for high inspiration does
not necessarily bring correct attribution (41). It does point to the
need for keen discrimination in reading.
SHAPING THE FUTURE
Looking back then we can see that a major impact upon the
thinking of mankind was made, primarily through the agency of
Mme Blavatsky, in the period from 1875 to 1891. Neither in the
literature of the time, nor in subsequent expositions, has there been
anything of the nature of infallible scriptures, but we have a heritage
of mind-stretching and thought-provoking doctrines on which to
exercise our intelligences and intuitions: and with them we are
exhorted to altruistic living of a high order, for which the philosophy
provides an intelligible foundation.
In facing the inevitability of living, we need the most likely explana¬
tions we can find on what life is about and the sensible way of going
about the business of living. If Theosophy be true we shall find that
we have made a large part of the world that affects us: and that being
so, if we dislike it, we can re-make it.
THE UNITED MOVEMENT
We can re-make the Theosophical Movement as a united whole.
Not just you and I, but all the you-and-I’s in the Movement. Two
years ago Mr. F. Pierce Spinks published a book in America called
Theosophists Reunite ! It was ‘on the beam’ for the future (42). Great
store was placed on unity when The Theosophical Society was being
shaped, not only in principle, but to make things easier in 1975 (32).
How can theosophical students who proclaim loyalty to Mme
Blavatsky justify the perpetuation of disunity? It will take goodwill on
all sides to achieve unity in time for 1975—and it needs to be in good
time, not a patch-up at the last minute. Arm’s length toleration will
not do what is needed, even if organizations were merged. We need
the theosophical large-heartedness that embraces in fraternal
sympathy those with whom we profoundly disagree, without sur¬
rendering our own integrity or expecting them to compromise theirs.
We need free interplay of minds, so that instead of shut-off com¬
partments of thought, we shall come to influence each other honestly
and gain greater mutual understanding. Out of this, we can come to
be truly knit together. No one should try to predetermine the pattern
of integration, because that should emerge from the exchanges of
thought. We can think about it and advocate it, individually and in
Lodges, and conceive tentative ways that might work, waiting to see
‘what will run’. We can treat theosophists outside our Society as
brother-theosophists. Internationally we can modify our rules and
resolutions to facilitate growing together. We can live with the idea of
coming together. There is thinking going on in the United Lodge
which is helpful to this end (43). There is no reason why different
ways of working should not go on amicably side by side. We can
welcome the impact of the United Lodge and other groups upon our
work. One of the Eastern Adepts gave us wise guidance when
separative tendencies were at work in the London Lodge: ‘Deluded
victims of distorted truth, they forget, or never knew, that discord is
the harmony of the Universe. ... Let meaner natures wrangle if they
will; the wise compound their differences in a mutually forbearing
spirit’ ( 44 )-
THE FUNCTION OF THE THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY TODAY
This principle of compounding differences and preserving solidarity
applies equally within our Society and Lodges as in our relations with
theosophical students outside our organization. We have adherents
of various teachers and schools within our Society, and that is right.
Truth must prevail by its own compelling power. Nothing more is
claimed for the Blavatsky propoundings than a free platform for
exposition—nothing more can be allowed to any other.
The occult teachings are an invitation to the individual to in¬
vestigate and verify. Balanced response to them leads to direct
experience of realities and values. The Theosophical Society will
stand before the world in its full stature, attracting ‘the attention of
the highest minds’, as its members show themselves to be men and
women of sound judgment, neither credulous nor unduly sceptical,
capable of suspending judgment about statements beyond their
knowledge either way. Work upon ourselves in these ways is the
essence of our pathward endeavours, and our supreme purpose must
be to attract those ready and willing to pass through and beyond con¬
sideration of theosophical ideas to the inward recognition and
realization of spiritual realities; for our Movement fails if it is not a
recruiting agency for workers prepared to engage in self-training to
be of increasing use in the world, through knowing spiritual powers
and allowing them to act in our normal, daily lives.
In the last published letter from a Master of Wisdom in the
1875-1900 energization we have a charge: ‘The crest wave of intellec¬
tual advancement must be taken hold of and guided into Spirituality.
It cannot be forced into beliefs and emotional worship. The essence
of the higher thoughts of the members in their collectivity must
guide all action in the T.S.... At favourable times we let loose
elevating influences which strike various persons in various ways. It
is the collective aspect of many such thoughts that can give the correct
note of action. . . . The best corrective of error is an open-minded
examination of all facts subjective and objective’ (45).
Whilst we pursue our several objects today less as pioneers and
more as consorts with other groups and societies, we still have our
distinctive function. We combine three strands of purpose and work
—promoting the realization of the brotherhood of mankind, the
inquiry into truth in all religions, philosophies and sciences, and the
exploration of the unknown or occult aspects of man and nature.
In pursuing our first object we are inviting study of a teaching that
makes the basis of this brotherhood so real that every individual
non-realization of it is seen as beclouded judgment born of self-
centred mental creations. We are not propounding a mere ideal
sentiment, but a conception of nature that reveals fundamental unity
as the very source of all our individual lives and powers.
In studying comparative religions we are distinguished from
societies devoted merely to comparison and the discernment of
similarities by a charge to consider evidences that the elements in
common point to one primeval Wisdom-Religion, the source in
common of them all, and hence the radical truth that we all need to
discover, as individual reality in our own natures and lives.
In the realm of psychic and occult investigation we are custodians
of the most coherent and comprehensive theses before the public in
this age, and we should make the various headquarters of The
Theosophical Society, and every individual Lodge, centres of whole¬
some sanity to which the public naturally turn for elucidation when
unusual manifestations are reported or occur in their own experiences.
We can present to honest thinkers conceptions of spiritual and
psychic realms coherent with modern physics. We can expound an
inner death-surviving man whose functioning in the outer body
correlates with the regulatory endocrine system of current physiology.
We have a doctrine of a host of superphysical intelligences ordering
the processes of manifestation that is commensurate with the majesty
of the cosmos as it is being increasingly revealed by astronomy. We
are equipped to bring the angelic host, the superphysical worlds and
the spirit and soul of man into coherence with the new images of the
world in which we live that modern science is producing. We can
indicate how this world of electromagnetic forces is ensouled by the
psychodynamic and rooted in an Eternal Source. We have intelligible
signposts pointing the Way we all have to travel, to become true
expressions of that Source through our true selves.
CREST WAVE LODGES
Whilst every Lodge must be free to follow the line of its own
collective interest, the more Lodges we have that are in the full
sweep of current thought and able to take hold of ‘the crest wave of
intellectual advancement’ and guide it into Spirituality, the more
completely and adequately we shall fulfil our function.
To be on the crest wave we must know and realize where public
education and opinion is up to. To go on plugging what is generally
accepted is not only a waste of energy, it is a bore. There are deeper
implications to be expounded no doubt, but to point effectively to
these we must take for granted what is now w idespread. Television is
bringing the more intelligent men and women of all social classes
well up to date on science, on cultivated opinion, and on Christian
religious thought. In Britain a Daily Mail poll last July revealed a
general desire for more serious, factual programmes. The Brains
Trust has an audience of three million; About Religion has five million.
To be effectual we must know where the television viewer is up to,
and start from there.
How far any Lodge can go on its ow r n in relating perennial
Theosophy to the ever-changing crest of current thought depends on
the abilities, interests and time-freedom of its members: but the
Theosophical Movement is a community. We are integrated by our
common interests. How far Lodges interplay, and serve and share
with each other, depends partly on willingness and partly on the
instruments of communication. This is where the world and national
societies can find their most useful function—as instruments of
dissemination, putting abroad the most illuminating and informative
studies from all sources.
THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE LODGE
Whilst the intellectual side of our work is a fundamental part of
our coming together it is not the wdiole, and no Lodge will have the
vital and vibrant spirit of Theosophy unless there is a growing
relationship of brotherhood among its members and through them
for all with whom they are related. This theosophical brotherhood is
not easy to attain. It is not in being nice so that we are liked, nor in
patronizing condescension from the heights of learning. We have to
help one another’s true selves, not pander to the falsities of per¬
sonality. Yet we must be forbearing and not hurtful without
inescapable need. We have to find a poise between independence and
interdependence, and to help one another as each of us tries to do
this. See defiant rebelliousness as the struggle to find and become
true to one’s own real nature. It produces a pseudo-integrity and the
awakening to that leads to outgrowing it. See servility and obsequious¬
ness as the endeavour to find true inter-relations. Eventually the pain
of it will bring the determination to be inwardly honest, regardless of
acceptability, in the quest for integrity. Trueness of nature is a whole.
Each individual nature is truly a facet of the whole, and a facet
cannot be separated from the whole of which it is but an aspect.
Integration is therefore dependent upon true inter-relation, the
mutual assimilation of one another’s integrities. Freedom in isolation
is a pseudo-freedom. There is true freedom only in a community of
freedoms. When there is eagerness in a Lodge to help one another
each on his or her true way, then the spirit of Theosophy pervades
and redeems the intellectual work of a Lodge, and the Light shines in
THE OCCULT BROTHERHOOD
No Lodge of The Theosophical Society truly seeking to develop
the Theosophical spirit, and to advance the Theosophical purposes,
stands alone and unwatched. There is a Brotherhood of Guardians of
Mankind, and their influence is poured upon and blesses every
group of people genuinely aspiring to achieve a true understanding
and to serve in community. In our Lodges as we work to true our
natures and our relationships, we shall do well to remember that in
the measure of our success we shall be deserving and receiving the
support of our Greater Brethren who are not visible but whose
presence can be felt.
LOYALTY TO MME BLAVATSKY
It is one of the marks of community that we are grateful. Mme
Blavatsky was a strange and remarkable woman. Had she been
conventional and ‘respectable’ she would not have been of use for the
work she had to do. Only an extraordinary woman could have done
it; but she was headstrong and impulsive and unguarded in many
ways, and left herself vulnerable to her enemies. So she suffered
deeply in transmitting the body of thought which forms the basis of
our Movement. When we are enlightened and uplifted as we read
The Secret Doctrine or The Voice of the Silence or her other writings,
let us remember to be grateful that she had the courage, the dedica¬
tion and the pertinacity to go through hell so that we might have help.
Mme Blavatsky was vilified and our Movement still suffers from
the mud that was thrown at her. Because she bears the stigma of
charlatan in the public mind, we who belong to the Society formed
around her work are dubbed gullible and deluded, and our work is
under a cloud. It is time she and our Society came from under that
cloud and into the sunshine. It is time Mme Blavatsky was vindicated,
and we who are grateful are the ones who must do it. Work is being
done by devoted men and women to this end. May it quickly come to
fruition, and may every Lodge be ready to spring into action and
make the greatest possible corrective impact on the public mind when
the time comes!
What will happen around 1975, who can say? Will the Adept
Brotherhood then find The Theosophical Movement or Society
serviceable as an instrument for further dissemination, or will they
have to by-pass it and start afresh? That probably depends on us—all
of us who belong to it, here and throughout the world.
If we get on to the right lines of action, and events begin to move
towards a rehabilitation and greater respect for Theosophy in the
public mind, great wisdom and prescience and discrimination will be
needed. There will be pseudo-messengers no doubt—galore, maybe.
Vanity and cupidity will see to that. We must strictly avoid
Messianism. The Adept Brotherhood makes no claim to be able to
save the world. With Gautama Buddha, they tell us that we have to
save ourselves. They offer added guidance in the last quarter of each
century, but it depends on us whether we can discern it and will
benefit by it.
For those of us who live in these bodies until then, it will be an
exhilarating time, a time of much difficulty and trial, and a time
when, we are told, the doorway between the Occult Guardians and
mankind will again be open for those who can take the opportunity.
May all of us who share this vision do our part worthily, to the fullest
extent that we can, in facilitating the greatest possible benefit for
mankind from the coming twentieth-century effort of the Masters of
the Wisdom. We owe so much to them, and wisely skilled labour is
the fitting expression of our gratitude.
NOTES AND REFERENCES
(1) The dialogue on the difference between opinion and knowledge at the
end of Book 5 of The Republic by Plato is worth re-reading at intervals.
*. . . matter of opinion*. . . is ‘the intermediate flux which is caught and
detained by the intermediate faculty.’ ‘. . . those who love the truth in
each thing are to be called lovers of wisdom and not lovers of opinion.*
(Jowett’s translation.) Compare Mme Blavatsky: ‘Every true fact is
part and parcel of Theosophy.*
(2) The Complete Works of H. P. Blavatsky , Vol. 1, p. 275. From Vol. 5
onwards, when the editing passed from Mr. A. Trevor Barker to Mr.
Boris de Zirkoff, The Complete Works became Collected Writings.
(3) She describes ‘faith on authority* as ‘a mental disease’ in Section XI of
The Key to Theosophy , contrasting it with ‘faith on one’s spiritual
(4) Compare Emerson on Self-Reliance : ‘Whoso would be a man, must be
(5) Quoted by A.I.R. in Lucifer , Vol. 1, No. 1, p. 57. It appears also in The
Theosophist y Vol. 1, No. 1, in slightly different form, partly in What is
Theosophy ; and partly in What are the Theosophists? y both by Mme
Blavatsky. See The Complete Works , Vol. 1, pp. 294, 305. I have not
found the quotation in A. E. Waite’s edition of The Works of Thomas
(6) The Voice of the Silence , 1st edn., p. 1.
(7) Idem, p. 5.
(8) The Secret Doctrine , 3rd edn., Vol. 3, p. 412; 4th (Adyar) edn. (1938),
Vol. 5, p. 396. It should be noted that this so-called third volume is not
the completion of The Secret Doctrine as H. P. Blavatsky intended it,
for she planned four volumes; nor is it part of the work as she published
it. It is a compilation from posthumous papers and esoteric instructions,
edited by another mind.
(9) Collected Writings, Vol. 8, p. 402.
(10) The Secret Doctrine , 1st edn., Vol. 1, pp. xxxvii-xxxviii footnote;
3rd edn., p. 21; 4th (Adyar) edn., pp. 59-60. The words in brackets are
emendations in the 3rd and 4th edns.
(11) The Preliminary Memorandum of the Esoteric Section.
(12) The Key to Theosophy , 1st edn. (1889), p. 306; U.L.T. Indian edn.
(1930, P- 256.
(13) The Comte de St.-Ger?tmin y by I. Cooper-Oakley, pp. 130-7* Saint-
Martin’s Theosophical Correspondence was reissued in 1949 by The
Theosophical Society (Covina).
(14) See A New Encyclopaedia of Freemasonry , by A. E. Waite, Vol. 2, p. 401.
(15) Idem , p. 46.
(16) Introduction by F. N. Pryce, m.a., to the reprint (1923) of The Fame
and Confession of the Fraternity of R.C. y pp. 12, 15.
(17) Idem , pp. 35-6, 41.
(18) Idem , pp. 9, 57.
(19) See The Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross , by A. E. Waite, p. 116.
(20) Idem, pp. 71-3.
(21) The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett y 1st edn., p. 434.
(22) The Occult World , by A. P. Sinnett, 1921 reprint, pp. 114. 116.
(23) The Secret Doctrine , ist edn., Vol. i, p. 646; 3rd., Vol. 1, p. 708; 4th
(Adyar) edn., Vol. 2, p. 371.
(24) The Theosophical Glossary , Krotona (1918) reprint, p. 287.
(25) The Mahatma Letters , p. 156.
(26) Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom (First Series), 4th end., pp. 23,
(27) The Mahatma Letters, p. 365.
(28) Lucifer , Vol. 4, p. 188.
(29) The Key to Theosophy , ist edn., p. 307; U.L.T. Indian edn. (1931),
(30) The Secret Doctrine , 3rd edn., Vol. 3, p. 23; 4th (Adyar) edn. (1938),
Vol. 5, p. 45. Although the date of recording is not given, the following
passage from A Treatise on the Seven Rays, Vol. 5, pp. 237-8, written
down by Alice Bailey and attributed to Djwal Kul, appears to be
related to the same deadline:
\ .. great expansions of consciousness ... in the human under¬
standing will, in the next one hundred and fifty years, completely
alter the manner of man’s thinking; they will change the techniques
of religion; they will bring about comprehension and fusion. When
this work has been accomplished we shall record an era of world
peace which will be symbolic of the state of the human spirit. Men
will then settle down to the great task which confronts all of us in the
New Age—the task of dissipating glamour and of bringing about a
clearer light upon the astral plane, in the same way that better
physical conditions will have been brought about upon the physical
plane. . . . The Hierarchy works ever under the law of cycles and of
cyclic compensation. The Masters know exactly that which must be
done by right timing.*
(31) See The Sacred Mushroom , by Andrija Puharich, pp. 10-5, 43-5, 69-70,
(32) See The Mahatma Letters , pp. 317-19, 400-2; The Key to Theosophy ,
Conclusion, and Five Messages to the American Theosophists (1930
reprint, Bombay), pp. 16-17, 28.
(33) See Man y Whence , How and Whither , by Annie Besant and C. W.
Leadbeater, ist edn., p. v; The Astral Plane , by C. W. Leadbeater,
p. 10; The Theosophical Student, by Annie Besant, pp. 8, 15-16.
‘Observations by students using superphysical faculties* should be held
‘with a light grasp, as hypotheses temporarily accepted until confirmed
or negated by further observations. . . . Study these books, but do not
swallow them; understand them but hold your judgment in suspense . . .
There is a dangerous tendency ... to make books of observations
authoritative instead of using them as materials for study. We must not
add to the number of blind believers . . . but to the number of sane and
sober students . . .*
(34) Op. cit., ist edn., p. 82.
(35) The Secret Doctrine , 3rd edn., Vol. 3, p. 416, footnote; 4th (Adyar) edn.,
Vol. 5, p. 399-
(36) As (35); The Voice of the Silence, ist edn., pp. 43, 86; The Theosophical
Glossary , Krotona reprint, p. 243. The attempted reconciliation by
Arya Asanga (A. J. Hamester) in the Introduction to the Adyar Golden
Jubilee (1939) edition of The Voice of the Silence is unsatisfying, but the
deletions from the text were restored.
( 37 ) Op. cit., p. 114.
(38) See Talks on the Path of Occultism , p. 483.
(39) See The Masters and the Path, 1st edn., diagram 4 facing p. 301,
pp. 363» 3^6, 368-9. According to The Secret Doctrine there are seven
Kumaras, four exoteric and three esoteric, but the names are ‘all aliases'.
‘Occasionally five ... are mentioned ... in the exoteric texts*, and
esoterically ‘they are five, because the last two names have ever been
kept secret*. ‘They are five , because two of the Kumaras fell.* Sanaka
or Sanatkumara come first of the exoteric four in various listings, but
Sanaka is the chief, and prototype of St. Michael. Sanatsujata is one of
the esoteric three. Confusion enters with the so-called third volume,
where Sanat-Kumara is given as the chief and equated with St. Michael,
and with Sanat Sujata, despite a footnote on the same page which lists
the two separately; but see note (8) above. (The Secret Doctrine, 1st edn.,
Vol. 1, pp. 89, 236, 372, 457-8; Vol. 2, pp. 577-8; 3rd edn., Vol. 1,
pp. 116-17, 257, 399, 494; Vol. 2, p. 610; Vol. 3, p. 327; 4th (Adyar)
edn., Vol. 1, pp. 153, 282; Vol. 2, pp. 87, 176-7; Vol. 4, p. 149; Vol. 5,
p. 320.) Apart from the Pratyeka Buddha tie-up, consistency between
Mr. Leadbeater and The Secret Doctrine on the Kumaras therefore
relies on the confused reference in the posthumous papers of the so-
called third volume, as against the footnote on Vol. 1, p. 372, of the
first edition, unless ‘the first’ on p. 458 is called in; but there seems no
need to read more into that than the first-named in the list as there
given. Controversy about such exalted beings is distasteful, and some
such ordering of responsibilities as Mr. Leadbeater described may well
exist. The question is whether or not he got it right. It is wise to suspend
judgment when one does not know.
(40) See A Treatise on Cosmic Fire y pp. 74, 75, 1239: yet The Theosophical
Glossary is quoted (p. 74) in clear conflict with the text.
(41) See ‘Are Chelas “Mediums” *? in Collected Writings , Vol. 6, pp. 223-7.
‘A person may consciously and voluntarily submit his will to another
being. . . . This “other being” may be the man’s own higher principle,
either alone or put into rapport with another ray of the collective
universal spiritual principle. . .. This “other being” may be one of
those exalted beings, called Mahatmas, and the conscious and voluntary
medium will then be called their “Chela”.. . . He may be under the
influence of his own seventh principle and imagine to be in com¬
munication with a personal Jesus Christ or a saint. . . . He may be
influenced by some Adept to write a great scientific work and be
entirely ignorant of the source of his inspiration . ..’ This valuable
article was included with two others in U.L.T. Pamphlet No. 13,
issued from Bombay. Our Adyar Society could well distribute this if in
print, or alternatively reprint it for wider dissemination. Alice Bailey
had absorbed the Leadbeater hierarchical schemata. Colouration from
her consciousness is possible, whether her attributing of the source of
inspiration is correct or not.
(42) He is now publishing a quarterly bulletin, with the same title, from
1508 Notre Dame Avenue, Belmont, California, U.S.A.
(43) See Theosophy, January 1961, pp. 127-30.
(44) The Mahatma Letters , pp. 401, 409.
(45) Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom (First Series), 4th edn.,
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